Sunday, January 25, 2009

Anti-Christian Bigotry: Just the Worst Cases

From Christian Newswire:
Top Ten Instances of Christian Bashing in America, 2008

VISTA Calif., Jan. 5 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) has prepared a Top Ten list of the most egregious acts of Christian Bashing in American in 2008. Every day in America serious Christians face increasing hostility at work, school, and in the culture because they stand for their faith and values.

INSTANCE #10: Jack Black Musical Video

In a short video posted on FunnyorDie.com entitled, “Prop 8 The Musical,” an all star cast of Hollywood celebrities perform a low budget musical farce that defames Christ, mocks Christians and distorts the teaching of the Bible. Jack Black played the lead role of Jesus.

INSTANCE #9: Bill Maher Gratuitously Attacks Pope

Bill Maher, host of the HBO program Real Time, made light of the Pope during his recent visit and the tragic sexual abuse scandal. Maher said, “Now I know what you’re thinking, Bill. You can’t be saying that the Catholic Church is no better than this creepy (radical Mormon polygamist) Texas cult. For one thing, alter boys can’t even get pregnant. But really, what tripped up the little cult on the prairie was that they only abused hundreds of kids, not thousands all over the world. Cults get raided; religions get parades. . . If you have a few hundred followers and you let some of them molest children, they call you a cult leader. If you have a billion, they call you Pope.”

INSTANCE #8: ESPN Anchor Dana Jacobson’s “F--- Jesus” Remark

Speaking at an ESPN corporate event in Atlantic City, N.J., to honor ESPN Radio personalities Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, Dana Jacobson let go with a steam of vulgar remarks; “F--- Notre Dame,” “F--- Touchdown Jesus” and finally “F--- Jesus.” Jacobson was suspended for a few days for the incident.

INSTANCE #7: Minnesota University Professor Desecrates Communion

A Biology Professor from the University of Minnesota, Paul Zachary Myers, recently desecrated a consecrated communion wafer from a Catholic Mass. Meyer’s has also asked people to steal the Eucharist for him in order that he might desecrate it and display it on his blog.

INSTANCE #6: Religulous the Movie

Bill Maher released a very shallow, pseudo-intellectual documentary entitled Religulous. The movie did not cover any new intellectual ground. It simply raised the old attacks on the faith. Maher studiously avoided being fair and did not allow for legitimate Christian answers from any leading Christian intellectuals.

INSTANCE #5: Chaplains Fired for Praying in Jesus’ Name

Chaplains for the State of Virginia are being denied their right to pray in Jesus’ name. Six chaplains were fired for continuing to pray in Jesus’ name. Earlier this year in Virginia, Rev. Hashmel Turner, a city councilman in Fredericksburg, was told by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that his prayers during city council meetings that ended in Jesus’ name will continue to be banned.

INSTANCE #4: Colorado Law Criminalizes the Bible

SB200, a Colorado state bill recently signed into law, criminalizes the Bible. Section 8 of the bill entitled “Publishing of discriminative matter forbidden” makes publishing the Bible illegal because it contains anti-homosexual passages. This is part of a larger effort to criminalize the expression of certain opinions and beliefs.

INSTANCE #3: Barack Obama Defames Christianity

According to research into President Elect Obama’s own statements about faith, and an examination of Obama’s position on moral issues, CADC has determined that by any biblical and historic Christian standard, Barack Obama is not a Christian, although he claims he is a “devout Christian.”
We don’t happen to agree with this one. Obama clearly sides with secular liberals on every issue that separates Christians and secular people. But that’s not the same as “defaming Christianity.” In fact, Obama feels the need to at least pay lip service to Christian faith, regardless of his personal beliefs.
INSTANCE #2: Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin Is Attacked

Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, came under sharp attack by some in the mainstream media because she self-identifies as a Christian. The Washington Post published a cartoon by Pat Oliphant mocking Palin because she has a background as a Pentecostal/Charismatic Christian. A suspicious arson fire at Sarah Palin’s home church recently caused over $1,000,000 in damage.

And finally, the #1 Christian Bashing Instance in America for 2008...

INSTANCE #1: Radical Homosexuals Assault Prop 8 Marriage Supporters in California

During and after the November campaign stories flooded in of pro-Prop 8 signs being taken, people verbally and physically assaulted, church property and private automobiles vandalized, and person’s jobs and pastor’s lives threatened simply for exercising their right to campaign and vote in support of traditional marriage.

BONUS INSTANCE: Senator Grassley’s Abuse of Power

US Senator Grassley, a member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, has demanded the financial records of a number of very prominent conservative, evangelical broadcast ministries. The demand was based on Grassley’s concern that these ministries are not spending their contributions properly. Grassley has admitted his concerns were in part driven by media accounts.
Insults anything like these directed against blacks, or gays and lesbians or Muslims would be considered beyond the pale. But Christians, being a politically incorrect group, occupy a free-fire zone.

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14 Comments:

Anonymous Chris said...

Insults anything like these directed against blacks, or gays and lesbians or Muslims would be considered beyond the pale. But Christians, being a politically incorrect group, occupy a free-fire zone.

Unlike Christianity, being black or gay isn't a belief system. You are a Christian because you accept certain ideas: the virgin birth, the miracles performed by Jesus, the resurrection, etc. Like any other set of ideas it is open to criticism, and rightly so. I certainly don't condone the use of harassment or physical force, though.

I would agree that there is a double standard when it comes to criticizing Islam (a contrary belief system).

Since PZ Myers (# 7) also "desecrated" pages from Dawkins' "The God Delusion," does that mean he's guilty of atheist bashing, too?

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/07/24/desecrated.jpg

...pseudo-intellectual documentary...

For a second there, I thought he was referring to "Expelled."

8:00 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Unlike Christianity, being black or gay isn't a belief system. You are a Christian because you accept certain ideas: the virgin birth, the miracles performed by Jesus, the resurrection, etc. Like any other set of ideas it is open to criticism, and rightly so.

In the first place, engaging in homosexual sex is not like being black, it's a behavior, and ought to be subject to criticism, just like (say) going to church.

Also, insisting that homosexual sex is perfectly normal and natural is a belief system, and ought to be subject to criticism just like any other belief system.

As for being black: it's true one has no choice about this, but criticizing the behavior and beliefs thought to be common among blacks is considered unacceptable.

Chris, you've simply bought into the notion that there are politically correct groups (gays, blacks) who are not allowed to be criticized, and politically incorrect groups that can be derided and demeaned (Christians, white males).

You are as aware as I am that civil rights laws protect (supposedly) religious belief just as they protect race or homosexuality.

As for Myers "desecrating" pages from Dawkins, you know perfectly well that Catholics view the elements of the communion differently.

You ought to be willing to condemn him as an idiot and a bigot, even while you defend his right to do idiotic and bigoted things.

Since atheists hold nothing sacred, it's hard to think of how somebody might really insult atheists that severely, but what about burning Darwin in effigy?

How would you feel about that?

Or (better) how about a video clip that stereotypes atheists as immoral and degenerate?

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

John,

Christianity is a belief system. Islam is a belief system. Homosexuality is not a belief system. Neither is being black. My point stands.

As for criticizing a position held by a particular black person or a group of black people or a gay person or a group of gay people, you are, of course, free to do so and I'd defend your right to voice your criticism, whether I thought it was valid or fatuous. As you know, I'm a libertarian. You also know that I'm not the least bit politically correct. If I support something (same sex marriage, for instance) it's because I genuinely think it's the correct position, not because I'm bowing to pressure from one special interest group or another, whether it be secular liberals or religious conservatives.

As for PZ Myers, I personally wouldn't have bothered sticking a rusty nail through a communion wafer and posting a photo of it on the Internet. I'd feel silly doing that because, well, it's just a piece of bread (which was exactly PZ's point). Having said that, PZ didn't just wake up one morning and decide to "desecrate" a religious symbol for the hell of it. He was responding to an outrageous news story involving a college student, Webster Cook, who was being threatened with expulsion and bodily harm (even death) for simply leaving a church without swallowing a communion wafer! Because of PZ's cracker stunt, his life was threatened too (as were the lives of his family), and people like Bill Donohue of the Catholic League (who referred to Cook's action as "beyond a hate crime") tried to have PZ fired from his teaching position at the University of Minnesota Morris. And then there were the members of the clergy who used terms like "kidnapping" and "hostage." This level of delusion just goes to show how religion can warp the mind. If the reaction towards Cook hadn't been so insanely over-the-top, Myers probably never would have bothered to do what he did. To any thinking person, "Crackergate" made Catholicism look bad, not atheism or PZ. And this is coming from someone who was raised Catholic.

If I saw people burning Darwin in effigy, I'd simply shake my head, roll my eyes and continue on my way, rightly assuming that the people in question were scientific illiterates who didn't know the first thing about Darwin or his groundbreaking theory. Chances are they'd be young earth creationists who believe that 6,000 years ago Adam and Eve were riding around the Garden of Eden on saddled dinosaurs. Ignoramuses like that who still have their heads stuck in the Bronze Age aren't worth a moment's thought. Life is too short.

As for my reaction to "a video clip that stereotypes atheists as immoral and degenerate," if it was anything like the lame anti-atheist videos I've seen on GodTube, I'd probably find it unintentionally hilarious, and send the link to everyone in my e-mail address book, including you. Unlike many religious people, I'm (1) not thin-skinned (2) I don't have a persecution complex, and (3) I have a sense of humor. If the anti-Prop 8 musical featuring Jack Black as Jesus is Christian bashing then the satirical songs that Rush Limbaugh has been playing on his radio show over the years are blatant examples of liberal bashing and he should apologize for being a "bigot."

Finally, referring to something as "sacred" is just another way of saying that "Claim X" has been made without any supporting evidence, and one is supposed to accept it purely on blind faith. Darwin was a great scientist whose theory of natural selection is arguably the single most important contribution to science. But we also know he was wrong about a number of things. I respect him, but I certainly don't worship him. Frankly, the whole concept of worship makes my skin crawl. There is a totalitarian whiff to it. When you worship something or someone, you stop asking questions. You stop thinking critically. If a theory that better explains the evidence comes along, I'd have no qualms about Darwin's idea being replaced with that of another scientist. Darwin wouldn't have wanted it any other way. That's the difference between science and religion.

10:06 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Christianity is a belief system. Islam is a belief system. Homosexuality is not a belief system. Neither is being black. My point stands.

No, it does not. Having homosexual sex is an action. Saying that homosexual sex is OK is a belief system.

If one can criticize going to church or believing in God, one can certainly criticize homosexuals in the same way.

You also know that I'm not the least bit politically correct.

Then why are you making a politically correct argument that gives blacks and homosexuals more rights than Christians?

Having said that, PZ didn't just wake up one morning and decide to "desecrate" a religious symbol for the hell of it. He was responding to an outrageous news story involving a college student, Webster Cook,

Then maybe he should have found a different way to respond.

What he did would be like staging a mock lynching of a black guy to protest affirmative action.

As for "well, it's just a piece of bread (which was exactly PZ's point)," not everybody agrees with you, and this fellow was being a jerk to try to attack the sensibilities of all Catholics just because he was mad at a few people in one case.

To any thinking person, "Crackergate" made Catholicism look bad, not atheism or PZ.

Why does it have to be just one or the other?

Why can't you admit that PZ was being a jerk?

And this is coming from someone who was raised Catholic.

Right, and is now an atheist.

Frankly, the whole concept of worship makes my skin crawl. There is a totalitarian whiff to it. When you worship something or someone, you stop asking questions.

Frankly, Chris, I think you rather worship "science."

I also think your assertion is just wrong.

As for "totalitarian:" you do know some 20th century history, right? People who believed in no God, but in "history" were the greatest mass murderers.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

No, it does not. Having homosexual sex is an action. Saying that homosexual sex is OK is a belief system.

If you twist the term "belief system" enough you can apply it to a preference for chocolate ice cream over strawberry. And enough with the strawman free speech argument. As I said, I'm a libertarian, you can criticize the gay "lifestyle" until you're Raptured, and I'll defend your right to do so.

Then why are you making a politically correct argument that gives blacks and homosexuals more rights than Christians?

I think you need to improve your reading comprehension. I said no such thing. I don't know whose views you're addressing, but they're not mine.

Then maybe he (Myers) should have found a different way to respond.

What he did would be like staging a mock lynching of a black guy to protest affirmative action.


That's right, John, sticking a rusty nail through a cracker is just like staging a mock lynching. Are you even reading what you're typing?

Frankly, Chris, I think you rather worship "science."

There you go projecting again. You just can't imagine that someone has no interest in worshiping someone or something. Science is a tool, the best one we have yet devised to understand the world around us. That's it.

As for "totalitarian:" you do know some 20th century history, right? People who believed in no God, but in "history" were the greatest mass murderers.

That's interesting coming from someone who's an apologist for the atrocities attributed to the God of the Old Testament, including genocide and the stoning to death of gays. Hitler was raised a Roman Catholic (and considered himself a Christian until the end of his life; he also thought that Martin "On The Jews and their Lies" Luther was the greatest German in history) and Stalin studied at a seminary. Where could they have possibly got the idea that genocide could be morally justified? Hmm?

The idea that atheism leads to genocide is utter nonsense, John, and you know it. Here's the formula for mass slaughter: dogma (either secular or religious) + statism. That's why one should never accept any claims on faith, and always demand evidence.

11:54 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

If you twist the term "belief system" enough you can apply it to a preference for chocolate ice cream over strawberry.

But you were arguing that it's ok to criticize a "belief system" (Christianity) but not to criticize homosexuality, since (in your view) that's like being black, and not a "belief system."

I responded a belief system that says homosexuality is OK is just as subject to criticism as a Christian belief system.

And homosexual acts are just a subject to criticism as going to church or driving an SUV.

You somehow want to protect homosexuality (although not with laws) but not protect Christianity.

Why the double standard?

That's right, John, sticking a rusty nail through a cracker is just like staging a mock lynching. Are you even reading what you're typing?

In fact, they are essentially the same. Both are things that do no intrinsic harm, but offend people greatly.

You seem to think that because you and your atheist buddies think nothing of desecrating the elements of the Lord's Supper, you are free to offend people.

Of course, I'm with you on what the law should be, but I'm willing to call people who do intentionally offensive things bigots and jerks.

Why do you think it's OK to do nasty and offensive things directed at Christians?

And apparently not OK to do nasty and offensive things directed at blacks?

Will you actually admit that there is a lot of festering anti-Christian bigotry out there?

You just can't imagine that someone has no interest in worshiping someone or something.

In fact, I do think that everybody worships something. I think people like you simply have an ideology that hides from you the real nature of your belief system.

As for Stalin and Hitler: Stalin was an avowed and Nazi ideology followed Nietzsche.

I'm sure you know what a great Christian Nietzsche was.

Again, I think you should admit that anti-Christian bigotry festers in various places.

Why not?

Are you so invested in fighting Christianity that you won't admit you have some nasty people on your side?

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

But you were arguing that it's ok to criticize a "belief system" (Christianity) but not to criticize homosexuality, since (in your view) that's like being black, and not a "belief system."

I responded a belief system that says homosexuality is OK is just as subject to criticism as a Christian belief system.

And homosexual acts are just a subject to criticism as going to church or driving an SUV.

You somehow want to protect homosexuality (although not with laws) but not protect Christianity.

Why the double standard?


*sigh* It's responses like that that make me wonder if you even read what I write. Again, homosexuality isn't a belief system any more than heterosexuality or left-handedness are belief systems, but that doesn't mean that I'm arguing that you don't have the right as a Christian to criticize gay-related issues (same sex marriage, etc.) or black-related issues (affirmative action, etc.) If the government tried to silence you, I would defend your right to free expression. No double standard. Have I made my position sufficiently clear?

In fact, they are essentially the same. Both are things that do no intrinsic harm, but offend people greatly.

For someone to be offended by a mock lynching all they have to be is an evolved human being. Nothing else. You'd be offended by such an act, as would I. However, in order to be offended by PZ's cracker stunt, you would first have to be willing to accept an extraordinary, irrational claim that has absolutely no evidence to support it (a piece of bread magically becoming the literal body of Jesus). Again, PZ went further than I would have, but the two actions simply aren't comparable.

Why do you think it's OK to do nasty and offensive things directed at Christians?

If the Catholics in question hadn't reacted in such an insanely over-the-top manner, the situation wouldn't have reached the level that it did. If they had simply said that they were offended by Webster Cook's action, and wanted to have the opportunity to speak with him and explain their side of the matter, PZ never would have done what he did. Instead there were threats of bodily harm (even death) directed at PZ and Cook, threats of expulsion leveled against Cook and attempts to get PZ fired, as well as the use of terms like "hostage" and "kidnapping" by members of the clergy. To mention these in the same breath as a cracker pierced with a rusty nail is just silly, John. It was the Catholics who were the bullies, not the atheists.

And apparently not OK to do nasty and offensive things directed at blacks?

You'd have to offer a specific example, and I'll tell you what I think. Criticizing an idea or a belief is one thing, attacking someone because of the color of their skin is something else entirely.

Will you actually admit that there is a lot of festering anti-Christian bigotry out there?

Bigotry comes in many varieties. Anti-Christian is one, anti-atheism is another. At least atheists don't threaten those who don't share their views with eternal torture.

In fact, I do think that everybody worships something. I think people like you simply have an ideology that hides from you the real nature of your belief system.

You remind me of a left-winger who once accused me of worshiping the free market. You're both wrong. As I said, when one is engaged in worship, one stops asking questions, stops demanding evidence and accepts claims based on faith. That's religion, John, not science.

As for Stalin and Hitler: Stalin was an avowed (atheist) and Nazi ideology followed Nietzsche.

Hitchens on Stalin:

(QUOTE ON)

Until 1917, millions of Russians had been told for hundreds of years that the czar is the head of the church – which he was, the Russian Orthodox Church. That the leader of the country should be something a little more than human. Not a god, but a little more. He’s not divine, but a holy father.

If you’re Josef Stalin, you shouldn’t be in the dictatorship business if you don’t know how to exploit an inheritance like that: millions of credulous, servile people.

And what does he do? Lysenko’s biology – miracles, we can have three harvests a year if we believe in Lysenko’s biology. Inquisition, heresy hunt, orthodoxy. Everything comes from the top and must be thanked for, and groveled for. A complete replication of the preceding theocracy.

For your argument to have any force at all, you’d have to point to a society that adopted the teachings of Lucretius, Spinoza, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Albert Einstein and then fell into famine, dictatorship, torture and genocide. And you won’t, I think, be able to point to such.

(QUOTE OFF)

Apply the formula I mentioned in my previous post to the above description: dogma + statism = mass slaughter. See what I mean? The same formula can be applied to Hitler.

It is, of course, true that Nietzsche didn't believe in God or in the divinity of Jesus. Hitler most certainly did, though.

Are you so invested in fighting Christianity that you won't admit you have some nasty people on your side?

I'm not "fighting Christianity," I'm simply pointing out that one should not accept claims without evidence. Religion demands blind faith from its adherents (under threat of eternal punishment).

Are there atheists who are jerks? Of course, just as there are Christians who are jerks. What's your point?

Hmm, no response on your being an apologist for the atrocities (including genocide) attributed to your loving God -- the source of your morality -- in the blood-soaked Old Testament? We should be able to agree that such atrocities are indefensible, whether they have a secular or religious origin.

9:36 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Again, homosexuality isn't a belief system any more than heterosexuality or left-handedness are belief systems,

You are ignoring my arguments, and equivocating on "homosexuality."

Being attracted to members of the same sex is fixed -- at least in the short run. I disagree with the gay lobby that everybody is born straight or gay. I think sexual response can, to a degree, be conditioned.

But engaging in homosexual acts is a choice. One can do it, or not. Just as one can go to church or not, and buy an SUV or not. You don't like people going to church. Al Gore doesn't like people buying SUVs. Christians don't like people engaging on homosexual acts.

Believing that homosexual acts are normal and natural is most certainly a "belief system." And saying that is most certainly speech.

If one can criticize speech or action, one can criticize those things.

You really should not try to gloss over that distinction.

For someone to be offended by a mock lynching all they have to be is an evolved human being. Nothing else. You'd be offended by such an act, as would I. However, in order to be offended by PZ's cracker stunt, you would first have to be willing to accept an extraordinary, irrational claim that has absolutely no evidence to support it (a piece of bread magically becoming the literal body of Jesus). Again, PZ went further than I would have, but the two actions simply aren't comparable.

OIC. Whether you would condemn something as offensive depends on whether you think it should be viewed as offensive.

So, if you don't think Christians should be offended, it's OK to do things that greatly offend them.

Chris, a mock lynching is just a rope and a mannequin, just as the host is "just a cracker."

At least atheists don't threaten those who don't share their views with eternal torture.

Well you get to decide whether to take that "threat" seriously, don't you? If you do, maybe you should get right with God.

And Christians aren't "threatening" to send you to hell. No Christian has that power. They are simply voicing an opinion about what might happen to you.

As I said, when one is engaged in worship, one stops asking questions, stops demanding evidence and accepts claims based on faith. That's religion, John, not science.

You are simply unable to see that that's what you have done with "science." You don't like questions about some of the cultural biases and assumptions of "science."

Hitchens on Stalin:

You might as well quote Hitler on the Jews to me.

Hmm, no response on your being an apologist for the atrocities (including genocide) attributed to your loving God -- the source of your morality -- in the blood-soaked Old Testament?

I've responded to this before.

God insists on communicating with humanity in terms that humanity understands.

In a brutal age, this communication had to be brutal to get the point across. It runs contrary to modern sensibilities.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

If you're arguing that the view that homosexuality is normal is a *component* that, *along with a collection of other views,* can constitute a "belief system" then we don't disagree. However, the idea that homosexuality *in itself* is a "belief system" is just silly, although I'm sure such a position would be welcomed with open arms by the wackaloons at WorldNutDaily or Conservapedia.

We would agree that people have the right to criticize gay-related issues without having to worry that the government will attempt to punish them (i.e. hate speech laws).

OIC. Whether you would condemn something as offensive depends on whether you think it should be viewed as offensive.

My point was that a mock lynching and the piercing of a communion wafer with a rusty nail *aren't on the same level* in terms of offensiveness. Not even close. If a black person came upon a mock lynching, it would be reasonable for him to be concerned for his safety. PZ's action didn't carry any such threat. He just wanted to show the people who were trying to ruin -- or in some cases *end* -- Webster Cook's life that he thought their belief was ridiculous. Hardly a noble act, but certainly not akin to orchestrating a mock lynching. As I said, the only physical threats uttered during "Crackergate" were by loving, God-fearing Catholics.

Well you get to decide whether to take that "threat" seriously, don't you? If you do, maybe you should get right with God.

My point was that when an atheist convinces someone that atheism is correct, they don't have the "benefit" of physical threats (implied or explicit) like theists do. Part of the reason that so few Americans accept the fact that humans and apes have a common ancestor is because they fear that accepting such a claim might condemn them to Hell for eternity. Of course, scientific illiteracy plays a major role as well. I've heard a number of pastors and conservative Christian talk radio/TV hosts say that if you accept evolution, you're calling God a liar.

You are simply unable to see that that's what you have done with "science." You don't like questions about some of the cultural biases and assumptions of "science."

Apparently, you want to take science back to the Middle Ages, when a gap in our scientific knowledge could be filled by simply invoking the supernatural.

For you, a scientist is guilty of having "cultural biases" by merely following the scientific method, which is rooted in methodological naturalism (i.e. Goddidit not allowed) :

"What science does require is methodological naturalism. We live in a material world, and we use the materials of nature to study the way nature works. By definition, that confines science to purely naturalistic explanations, because only those are testable, and only those have validity as science." Ken Miller (who, as you know, is an orthodox Catholic)

You might as well quote Hitler on the Jews to me.

Apparently, you're unable to point to a society like the one referenced by Hitchens. Oh well, keep looking.

I've responded to this before.

God insists on communicating with humanity in terms that humanity understands.

In a brutal age, this communication had to be brutal to get the point across. It runs contrary to modern sensibilities.


In other words, in your religiously-steeped mind there are two types of atrocities, the God-approved ones that can be found in the blood-spattered pages of the Old Testament, and all the rest (Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc.) You *condone* the former, but *condemn* the latter. Not only is this view morally reprehensible (not to mention more than a little unhinged), it's the height of hypocrisy.

Of course, you could always adopt the more "sensible" position held by a fellow Christian like DaveScot:

http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/05/agreeing_with_davescot_serious.php

I'm sure those Bronze Age babies had it coming, though.

9:22 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

If you're arguing that the view that homosexuality is normal is a *component* that, *along with a collection of other views,* can constitute a "belief system" then we don't disagree. However, the idea that homosexuality *in itself* is a "belief system" is just silly, although I'm sure such a position would be welcomed with open arms by the wackaloons at WorldNutDaily or Conservapedia.

You have simply ignored my previous post, and continued to conflate same sex attraction, homosexual acts and the belief that homosexuality is normal and natural.

"Belief" versus "belief system" is a moot point. Stand alone "beliefs" can be criticized.

If a black person came upon a mock lynching, it would be reasonable for him to be concerned for his safety.

Depends on the context, Chris. An actual physical threat is different from a symbolic expression that is highly offensive, but offends people badly.

If somebody was holding a cross anywere near a pro-gay marriage rally in California, one could reasonably feel threatened.

My point was that when an atheist convinces someone that atheism is correct, they don't have the "benefit" of physical threats (implied or explicit) like theists do.

It's not a "threat" like the mafia might threaten you. Christians can't send anybody to hell.

Of course, you atheists have advantages too. If people adopt your views they can do all sorts of things that Christianity condemns.

But that's entirely irrelevant to the truth of either belief system.

Apparently, you're unable to point to a society like the one referenced by Hitchens. Oh well, keep looking.

There simply aren't any societies based on the "good atheists" he points to.

There are plenty of societies based on the ideas of real world atheists, and they have been horribly brutal.

"What science does require is methodological naturalism. We live in a material world, and we use the materials of nature to study the way nature works. By definition, that confines science to purely naturalistic explanations, because only those are testable, and only those have validity as science." Ken Miller (who, as you know, is an orthodox Catholic)

You just keep dogmatically begging the question, Chris.

As I've explained to you many times, whether something was designed by an intelligent being is in fact an empirical proposition.

Further, simply assuming that anything that science can't explain does have a naturalistic explanation is absurdly dogmatic.

Until a naturalistic explanation is produced, it's an open question.

The notion that everything in the universemust have a naturalistic explanation is absurdly dogmatic.

In other words, in your religiously-steeped mind there are two types of atrocities, the God-approved ones that can be found in the blood-spattered pages of the Old Testament, and all the rest (Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc.) You *condone* the former, but *condemn* the latter. Not only is this view morally reprehensible (not to mention more than a little unhinged), it's the height of hypocrisy.

Chris, it seems to be you who turns unhinged when trying to argue with Christians.

God has the authority to do things that humans don't.

And in a brutal era, brutal means may be necessary to communicate with humanity.

Look, Chris . . . why don't you try, for a while, reading the works of C.S. Lewis, rather than hanging out on blogs where they hate Christians.

I'm not saying he would change you mind (probably wouldn't), but at least you might then get some experience dealing with real Christian arguments, rather than just picking on the yahoos that the hate-Christian blogs obsess on.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

"Belief" versus "belief system" is a moot point. Stand alone "beliefs" can be criticized.

Good grief, John, am I speaking in a language that is foreign to you? I never said that beliefs couldn't be criticized. In fact, I *insist* that beliefs be open to criticism. You have every right to criticize the belief that being gay is normal or natural or positive or whatever term you wish to use, and of course others have the right to argue to the contrary.

Depends on the context, Chris. An actual physical threat is different from a symbolic expression that is highly offensive, but offends people badly.

There is an implicit (at the very least) threat in mock hangings, which is why racists (like members of white supremacists groups) have used them in the past. The message being sent is that if the target group doesn't do what the racists want (move away, for instance) then the next time a rope is hanging from a tree it might have a *black human being* on the end of it instead of just a black mannequin. PZ's cracker stunt was purely for the purpose of mocking a belief that he found ridiculous. Even PZ's harshest critics wouldn't seriously suggest that he was threatening anyone.

It's not a "threat" like the mafia might threaten you. Christians can't send anybody to hell.

It's undeniable that coercion is at least an underlying factor (often an explicit one) in any pro-Christian argument. You believe that anyone who doesn't share your views (even devoutly religious non-Christians) are going to be tortured for eternity when they die for the "sin" of not accepting Jesus. Any belief system that relies on coercion to recruit new members is obviously intellectually bankrupt.

Of course, you atheists have advantages too. If people adopt your views they can do all sorts of things that Christianity condemns.

Ah, the "atheists are just a bunch of hedonists" card. *Yawn* Is that the best you can do, John? Theists are no more moral than atheists. Don't resent us just because we don't need a belief in the supernatural to behave ourselves.

There are plenty of societies based on the ideas of real world atheists, and they have been horribly brutal.

As I've argued, dogma (either religious or secular) is the common denominator whenever genocide occurs, not atheism. Refusing to accept claims (especially extraordinary ones) based on faith and demanding evidence is decidedly a virtue not a vice. No sane person is going to argue that the problem with, say, North Korea is that there is too much reason and skepticism. It's yet another example of Dogma + Statism = nasty consequences.

As I've explained to you many times, whether something was designed by an intelligent being is in fact an empirical proposition.

You're priceless, John. Whether you want to admit it or not, you want to radically change the nature of science (just like what your buddies at the Discovery Institute talked about in the leaked "Wedge Document"), replacing the current paradigm -- which has methodological naturalism as its foundation -- with a theistic one (specifically Christianity) that puts supernatural "explanations" ("Magic man in the sky did it!") on par with testable natural explanations.

http://magicanimation.com/misc/SidneyHarris_MiracleWeb.jpg

You're quite the scientific trailblazer, John. I've got the perfect slogan for you and your creationist pals, "Science Education: Full Speed Ahead...back to the Middle Ages!" ;-)

Chris, it seems to be you who turns unhinged when trying to argue with Christians.

I'm not the one defending *the slaughter of women and children (including babies)* just because said atrocities are attributed to the God of the OT. And Christians question the morality of atheists. The mind boggles.

Look, Chris . . . why don't you try, for a while, reading the works of C.S. Lewis, rather than hanging out on blogs where they hate Christians.

Since you're offering reading recommendations you should check out something by Ken Miller to see how a devout Christian can make a valuable contribution to science, rather than trying to water it down with superstition, which just ends up hurting all of society, believers and non-believers alike.

One of the reasons that Judge Jones (a decidedly conservative and religious individual) ruled the way he did in the Dover trial (at which Miller testified) was out of self-interest. He knew that at some point in time he or someone he cared about would require the assistance of science to alleviate suffering or sustain life, and he didn't want scientific advancement hobbled by pseudoscience.

PZ doesn't hate Christians, he just thinks that your beliefs are irrational. It's nothing personal, it's all about ideas. If it makes you feel any better, I think he dislikes libertarian beliefs more than Christian ones. :-)

7:33 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

There is an implicit (at the very least) threat in mock hangings, which is why racists (like members of white supremacists groups) have used them in the past.

That entirely depends on the context, Chris.

If it's actually in the neighborhood of a black family that some people in the neighborhood don't want, that's one thing.

If it's clearly directed at no specific individual, it's not a "threat."

Remember, this all started when you were trying to defend the desecration of the elements of the Lord's Supper, but said a mock hanging is different.

Such double standards are typical of politically correct people.

Any belief system that relies on coercion to recruit new members is obviously intellectually bankrupt.

Your use of "coercion" is wacky. The "coercion" you have in mind is no different from Alcoholics Anonymous telling people who go on benders that bad things will happen to them if they don't get their act straight.

Pointing out natural consequences is a good thing.

Ah, the "atheists are just a bunch of hedonists" card.

Simple fact: a lot of people become atheists because they want to do something that Christianity condemns, so given the choice between changing their behavior or changing their beliefs, they believe what is convenient.

Theists are no more moral than atheists.

That's simply not true, Chris.

Christians, for example, give more money to charity than atheists.

Christians are happier across a wide ranger of indicators.

No sane person is going to argue that the problem with, say, North Korea is that there is too much reason and skepticism.

You are equating atheism with "reason" and "skepticism." I don't accept that. Let's just talk about atheism.

It has been the basis for the nastiest regimes of the 20th century.

The most humane regime has been based on the idea that a Creator endowed people with certain inalienable rights.

You're priceless, John. Whether you want to admit it or not, you want to radically change the nature of science

You are just turning abusive, Chris.

You haven't dealt with my argument that whether something is the result of intelligent design is a testable scientific hypothesis.

You must keep repeating the dogmas over and over.

I know you hate the folks at the Discovery Institute, and (Appeal to Authority) tout this supplsedly conservative judge, but you have had huge trouble with my arguments.

I'm not the one defending *the slaughter of women and children (including babies)* just because said atrocities are attributed to the God of the OT.

But that's because you don't believe in the Old Testament.

If you want to reply to this, you can have the last word.

We really aren't getting anywhere.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Just a few comments and then we'll have to agree to disagree.

Such double standards are typical of politically correct people.

My argument was simply that PZ's action didn't *rise to the level* of a mock hanging. I thought your comparison was flawed, that's all. If you had put forward a more reasonable comparison, I might have agreed.

You haven't dealt with my argument that whether something is the result of intelligent design is a testable scientific hypothesis.

Using the so-called "fine tuning" of the universal constants as an example, invoking the supernatural is scientifically worthless because it doesn't explain anything, it doesn't shed any new light on any underlying processes or mechanisms that might be at work or the relationships between the various constants; and, most importantly, it doesn't offer any *testable predictions* which is an essential ingredient in any scientific explanation, and where ID creationism *always* fails. Scientifically, we're no further ahead than before we invoked the supernatural. It's blatantly obvious that you don't have a genuine interest in science, since the only time you mention it is to argue that we should endorse creationist dogma.

As I've said, the scientific method is rooted in methodological naturalism (not to be confused or conflated with metaphysical naturalism) for good reason. It's what works best in allowing us to better understand the world around us, while your fruitless and anti-scientific "theistic method" -- 1. Unexplained phenomenon 2. Invoke supernatural (Goddidit!) 3. Phenomenon "explained" -- would leave us in perpetual darkness, spinning our proverbial wheels.

Pointing out natural consequences is a good thing.

I find it more than a little amusing that you're comparing something like the negative consequences of excessive drinking which can be established scientifically, and the supposed negative consequences of failing to accept Jesus, which is purely a matter of dogma.

It (atheism) has been the basis for the nastiest regimes of the 20th century.

Dogma is the common denominator, not atheism. You should understand that fact by now, John. Instead of agreeing that dogma (in all its forms) should be rejected, you instead enthusiastically embrace it.

The most humane regime has been based on the idea that a Creator endowed people with certain inalienable rights.

The U.S. Constitution never mentions God. It's a document that is a product of the Enlightenment (something that you appear to be hostile towards, at least to some degree), not theism.

But that's because you don't believe in the Old Testament.

If believing in the OT means condoning baby killing, I'm glad I'm an atheist (although many Christians would disagree with you, too). Your position on this point is utterly surreal, John.

11:37 AM  
Blogger John Foust said...

Thank you, Chris.

7:52 AM  

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